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Valentine’s Day Jewelry Buying Expected to Fall in 2021

Fewer consumers planning to purchase Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

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WASHINGTON – Fewer consumers plan to gift jewelry for Valentine’s Day in 2021, new research suggests.

Eighteen percent of U.S. adults celebrating the holiday plan to give jewelry, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s compared with 21 percent last year.

But there’s at least one bright for independent jewelers in the data. Consumers listed small businesses as a top five shopping destination for Valentine’s Day, the first time that’s happened since the question was added to the survey in 2015.

Online is the most popular Valentine’s Day shopping destination, visited by 39 percent, followed by department stores (29 percent), discount stores (28 percent) and local small businesses and specialty stores tied (17 percent).

According to the survey, just over half (52 percent) of U.S. adults plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, spending a total of $21.8 billion.

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“There is no question the pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ daily interactions and activities,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “However, there remains a special significance around Valentine’s Day, and consumers are committed to celebrating friends and loved ones, even if that means having to alter those traditional holiday celebrations.”

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers celebrating Valentine’s Day this year feel it is important to do so given the current state of the pandemic. It is clear the virus is still front and center, with 74 percent indicating it will directly impact their plans for the holiday, NRF noted. Those celebrating can still expect the classic candy, cards and flowers, but there is a significant decline in the number of consumers who will plan for an evening out. Less than one-quarter (24 percent) of consumers plan to gift their loved one with an evening out, the lowest in the survey’s history. Even still, 41 percent say they will plan a special dinner or celebration in the comfort of their own home.

Because of these altered plans, it is no surprise that spending on Valentine’s Day gifts this year has dropped. Those celebrating plan to spend an average $164.76, down $32 on average per person, from a record $196.31 in 2020 right before the pandemic hit.

With consumers planning fewer evenings out, spending on significant others saw the biggest drop this year, down an average of $13 year over year. Further proof of COVID-19’s impact on spending plans is the decrease in spending on teachers, classmates and co-workers, as many continue to social distance. Consumers say they will spend an average of $10.77 on their children’s classmates and teachers, down from $14.45 last year. Additionally, they plan to spend an average of $8.47 on colleagues, down from $12.96 in 2020.

“Consumers still feel it’s important to spoil their loved ones in light of the pandemic,” said Phil Rist, Prosper Insights executive vice president of strategy. “This year’s total and average spending figures are near record highs, as the second highest in the survey’s history.”

The survey of 7,882 adult consumers was conducted Jan. 4-12 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

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